Updated: May 29, 2018
Streaming on Amazon Prime
Metadata: 2016 | PG-ish (not officially rated) | 1h 23m
Genre: Documentary, Comedy
Why did I watch it: While I was pulling up TinyLetter to start writing on a totally different movie, my partner started watching Chicken People. Needless to say, I did an about face and am now here to tell you all about this delightful, light-hearted chicken documentary.
You might also like: It's a bit of a stretch, but I kind of get an Antiques Roadshow vibe from Chicken People. They aren't the same at all, but an infectious excitement about mundane things, whether poultry or side tables, is palpable in both.
Chicken People is a charming look at the hugely competitive, champion show chicken competition circuit. Yes, you did just read that sentence correctly. Over the course of an hour and a half (and who doesn't have an hour and a half to spare for chickens?), this documentary follows three breeders, Brian Knox, Brian Caraker and Shari McCollough, as they put their best fowls forward for the National Poultry Show. And as they do, you'll find yourself laughing and rooting for your favorite bird—and wondering how you never knew until now that a silkie chicken getting shampooed and blowed dry is adorable! The little moments are really what make the stranger-than-fiction Chicken People so fun: The interspersed close-ups of these bird's plumage are downright beautiful, the periodic interviews with dozens of other breeders are quirky but still heartfelt, and the pacing nears perfection. Never is there a dull moment (which, to be honest, was completely unexpected). The passion of these poultry aficionados is contagious. Don't be surprised if you don't find yourself Googling "How To Show Chickens" before the end of the film...
The most surprising part of the documentary, chicken-fun-facts aside, is the psychological depth that director Nicole Lucas Haimes manages to give breeders Brian, Brian, and Shari. Brian Knox is an engineer who works at a race track, and for him chicken breeding is reflective of his perfectionist, type-A mentality. Meanwhile, chickens help Shari maintain sobriety. For Brian Caraker, the birds are his North star. Chicken People asks us to understand why these chicken people are chicken people. By the end, I completely get it.
In short: Cheers to chickens! Liz